BMW i Working to Become Tech Leader — Top Gear talks with BMW i VP

BMW i, News | March 18th, 2019 by 8
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The BMW i Division seems to be in a bit of a rut. It came out of the gate hot in 2014, as the first true electrified subdivision in the industry. BMW was a pioneer that way. It also launched two very exciting, very futuristic electrified cars; the BMW i3 and i8. Since then, though, the i Division has seemingly been on life support, only putting out slightly refreshed versions of its existing cars. All the while, its competition has been developing some genuinely great electric cars.

Don’t count BMW i out just yet, though. Top Gear recently spoke with Robert Irlinger, Senior VP of BMW’s i Division, and he talked about the near future of the brand and what’s coming next.

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“The one you’re looking for is the iNEXT in 2021. It won’t be the next level of electrification, but the really huge step will be autonomous driving up to level three [where driver’s can relinquish control entirely for certain periods of time, in specific conditions].” That’s encouraging to hear but Audi already launched Level 3 autonomy in the new A8, so the BMW iNEXT better be significantly improved in three years time (the Audi A8 launched in 2018).

Though, Irlinger seemed to note that the i Division isn’t necessarily focused on electrification or automation but technology in general. He wants BMW i to be the “Pfeilspitze” (Arrowhead) of the BMW Group, in terms of technology. It’s supposed to be one step ahead of the rest of the lineup. Though, the normal lineup will be gaining a lot of new electrified technology as well.

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“Next year [2020] there will be the iX3, a car which is mainly focused on the new electric powertrain. It will not be the big step into autonomous driving as this is the role of the iNext. We decided on the second tier of electrification in our company as there is customer demand to have the more normal cars as fully electric cars as well. That will be the new normal – electrification will be the new normal in our cars.” he told Top Gear.

So while the i Division seems like it’s just spinning its wheels at the moment, it’s actually working hard in the background. The Bavarians are working on the next-generation of electric powertrains as well as the next-gen of automated driving. So rather than just trying to pump out electric cars, BMW i wants to be the spearhead of technology for the entire BMW Group. Though, it will have to start showing some of its work or it’s going to fall behind its competitors.

[Source: Top Gear]

8 responses to “BMW i Working to Become Tech Leader — Top Gear talks with BMW i VP”

  1. mod9 says:

    Why do I feel like what Irlinger was saying was akin to running on a treadmill?

    I got absolutely nothing out of that.

    BMW was truly ahead of its time with the i8, that still is a looker even today. It really would be nice to take that design, refresh it, electrify it (fullly) and give an engine that takes it to the next level.

    That car lacks nothing but a powerful engine.

  2. DM says:

    Sounds like a broken record (millenials Google “vinyl records”):


    All of this after Board members like Klaus Froelich get caught on record saying that truly autonomous won’t work and electrification is not viable long-term like Hydrogen.

  3. Max says:

    Why do so many people think that BMW i is just about electrification? The i means “innovation”, so that is obviously much more than just putting an electric drive train into a car. As mentioned above, it is the new normal.
    Especially in the iNext, which is a true game changer in many digital fields (ACES)!! And this will put BMW, again, ahead of many others…

  4. cnet-970ad33b278bd3b05502252be3640ea5 says:

    Wtf is that last sentence?! Since i have been on the road for years & r about to introduce their 5th. gen. BEV, who exactly are their “competitors”?!

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